The ever-evolving tech sector demands adaptive, flexible leadership that can embrace and navigate disruptive changes. Lily Ley, Vice President and CIO of PACCAR, is familiar with these challenges, having led the modernization of IT for digital and connected services to create new revenue streams for her organization.
Lily utilizes her 30+ years of experience in the tech field and a customer-first mindset. She focuses on applying innovation to deliver tangible business benefits in a relentless pursuit to enhance business efficiencies. Lily leads the IT division and the Global Connected Services organization. She also mentors aspiring students and passionately advocates for more inclusive workplaces for women.
Journey Up Until Now
Born the oldest of five siblings in Mexico, Lily was the first person in her family to earn an Undergraduate Degree (BA/Computer Science Engineer) and MBA. She grew up in a family that encouraged her to try new things. Being a nerd, Lily was extremely good at Math and Science as she was curious and analytical. At the time, she had one goal – to get a job and assist her parents by paying the family’s expenses.
Lily began her career in Mexicali, Mexico, as a Pascal programmer for a small software firm. She started working with Kenworth Mexicana as a developer in 1989 (Pascal and Cobol.) She progressed through jobs with increasing scope and responsibility over the next 17 years, eventually reaching the post of IT Director. Lily’s innovative, passionate, and creative approach aligns with solving problems and promoting a better work environment, making her resilient and capable of adapting to any situation quickly. She says, “I have frequently challenged the status quo at great risk. We adopted Agile development when Waterfall was still the industry standard; redesigned our workspaces to be more modern and open, with lots of meeting space to foster collaboration and teamwork; and invested early in platforms driving standardization across a very diverse company.”
PACCAR sent her to the United States in 2006 to work for the Kenworth Division in Kirkland, Washington. Since then, she has proceeded to take on numerous roles with growing responsibility including her current job as Vice President and Chief Information Officer of PACCAR.
Leading at the Forefront
PACCAR is a global technology leader in the design, manufacture, and customer support of premium light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks under the Kenworth, Peterbilt, and DAF nameplates. It also designs and manufactures advanced diesel engines, provides financial services, information technology, and distributes truck parts related to its principal business.
Lily states that each of these vertically integrated businesses makes a valuable contribution to PACCAR’s achievements. Quality, technology, and innovation are the cornerstones that support PACCAR’s success in delivering outstanding products and services to its customers worldwide. Its excellent performance enables the company to invest in new vehicles, factory productivity enhancements, and engine technology throughout the business cycle. The PACCAR brand is also becoming more prominent as represented by PACCAR Parts, PACCAR Financial, PACCAR Leasing, and PACCAR Engines. It takes 27,000 employees to deliver the industry’s best products and services to its customers. PACCAR’s products and technologies have been consistently recognized as the best in the industry for over 116 years.
Lily expresses that PACCAR is constantly examining how it can inspire people by setting an example, mentoring further development, and recognizing high potential employees. She asserts, “Our leadership team, for instance, always encourages our team members to speak up and be more assertive. Our employees feel empowered to share their ideas with the right guidance. The five values that we follow are teamwork, commitment, continuous improvement, learning, and openness.”
Lily mentions that at PACCAR Information Technology (ITD), the management team plays a critical role in driving employee engagement. There are many factors involved, and some of these factors cannot be controlled. The nature of the work itself, for instance, might not be in line with what a particular individual feels is meaningful to their life.
Several years ago, the company took the first steps towards a complete digital transformation. It modified or created its processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet fast-changing business and market requirements. Lily notes that IT budgets are under considerable pressure; there is so much potential to explore with new technology, particularly in cloud applications, but a limited pool of funds to cover costs.
Lily believes that modernizing and automating IT, addressing technology debt, re-imagining the operating model, increasing resiliency, and improving security are critical steps for PACCAR to prepare for a more technologically and data-intensive business environment. “Leading this effort and making the case to continue with the modernization of IT – while also investing in building a digital foundation to drive long-term growth – will provide PACCAR with a strong, solid foundation to enable new business models soon,” she says.
Over the Horizon
As she plays a large role in PACCAR’s development of areas like autonomy, zero-emissions, and connectivity, Lily has big plans for her future. She never gives up even in the face of failure. Her dreams keep her going; they aren’t an object to strive for. Lily wants to continually cultivate the right positive attitude, work ethic, and connections that prove her value. She intends to earn recognition as a visionary leader in the company. She believes executive courage around action, communication, and trust is a critical leadership skill that needs to be a focus of ongoing development.
Lily sees herself as a PACCAR leader who can influence, care for, and value people’s compassion and empathy. She believes that employees who feel valued, appreciated by their leaders are more likely to go above and beyond in their roles. Finally, she continues advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion to promote gender equality and empower individual women to help them achieve career and personal success.
Becoming the Guiding Light
Lily believes that the world is full of great ideas, but that success only comes through action. She advises budding entrepreneurs to stop talking and start doing something – don’t be afraid to invest time to learn from the automotive sector! Success frequently necessitates learning from others who have previously attained their objectives.
Lily says, “The biggest motivation is to keep challenging yourself. We never know how our efforts will turn out unless we try them. Patience and positivity are essential for success. Energy is the fuel that feeds our attitude. Don’t overthink it; take calculated risks. Don’t be blinded by technical jargon, and don’t be afraid to ask plenty of ‘stupid’ questions.”
“The automotive industry represents many opportunities, and we need fresh blood to think out of the box, experiment with new ways of implementing new concepts and technologies to drive efficiency and productivity,” Lily concludes.